December 13, 2012

Breaking out of the bubble (for moms).

So, I survived the first 6 weeks and survived a major abdominal surgery. You don't normally equate a c-section with major surgery but after reading up about it, I am convinced it is. Compared to the nightmare that was my first (non-surgery) delivery recovery, this one seems better but I guess if things had gone wrong with the surgery, it could have gone terribly wrong.

The bubble thing. The first six weeks after r~ was born, I was in a haze. I continued to be in a haze even three months after she was born. I just didn't feel quite right (which later I discovered was my thyroid levels acting up). But thyroid levels being off or not, the first six weeks after delivery, you live in a bubble. In my case, I kept hanging on tight to different mementos, places, things at different times during those six weeks. The first thing I held on to as a security object for a few days was this pair of socks -- they gave it to me at the hospital just before the surgery...

The five days in the hospital this time were mainly about little milestones, little victories for me. Last time, it was quite the bollywood drama -- I asked to go home after third degree tears, hemorrhage and the doctor said he would stamp an AMA (against medical advice) on my forms if I did that! 3 days of labor, attempt to birth at home etc etc. Long story that. This time, everything was planned and felt a bit unreal. k actually had a real hospital bag ready (last time, after my last bit of strength with home birthing and labor had drained off, I picked up a kroger bag, stuffed a few nighties in it and insisted we rush to the hospital with that). This time around, we had taken a real hospital tour, pre-registered, all that good stuff.

After a 'regular' delivery, delivering a baby by c-section was...different. I almost missed laboring (or perhaps that was my hormonal imbalance speaking to me). I missed the challenge of kicking labor in its *-- and knowing that I have the strength to push the baby out. I have read that labor pains is one of the worst forms of pain that a human being can endure. So, coming out of it alive seemed like winning something. I was thrilled to see baby m~ and wondered in a drug-induced haze if I should make another one of these wonderful little things but I hadn't pushed the baby out. I felt a little tugging and there she was! The post 'delivery' part of this pregnancy though was as miraculous as the first time :)

That's the surgery part of it. Then came the 5 day period where I had to kick a different *-- i,e surgery recovery :p I decided to stop and make a little mental note every time I crossed a milestone -- getting up to walk (12 hours after surgery), getting off the epidural, using the rest room for the first time, walking out of the hospital room for the first time, everything was a struggle and a small win. After 5 days, I almost felt scared to leave the hospital like I was leaving a safe bubble to go to the outside world. I guess the hospital room and nurses had become my second security blanket. I held on to little things like the warm water and apple juice k would give me in the hospital room -- each was a source of comfort that it was going to be ok.

At home, I looked forward to the huge scoops of nei that I know my mom would have had ready for me. I remembered the taste from my last time and somehow even that helped me recover -- the familiar tastes and smells of home, and settle down to a more normal routine at home. I shed a few tears for not being able to spend enough time with dear big sister r~. Our lives used to revolve around her constantly and now I wasn't able to shower her with the amount of attention I was accustomed to giving her. And the fact that she was so excited about her lil' sister and had not a jealous bone in her body only made me feel sadder somehow. I am back to doing activities and crafts with her (and sitting on the floor!) and am glad for's always the small things that catch you unprepared.

What's the big deal, you ask? Everyone has or knows someone who has gone through a c-section (or a regular delivery for that matter). True, that. But, I thought I'd write a little about what it feels like to actually go through it and emerge out into the sunlight. I am still seeing through tinted glasses, still standing with one leg somewhat inside the bubble but I know I will step out eventually like I did last time.

Here's to all the moms who make the journey! It's not an easy one :)

November 27, 2012

Status update

Currently reading: Secrets of the baby whisperer by Tracy Hogg

Currently doing: Art projects with r~, finally settled on Follow Me on Pinterest as my display case instead of twitter.

Currently watching: Parenthood, How I met your mother and Big Bang Theory.

Currently experiencing: Fatigue, joy...

Currently: drowning in social media: what do I update? Facebook/linkedIn/multiple twitter accounts, personal blog/professional blog/pinterest???

November 13, 2012

A new life.

I guess giving birth is like being reborn. I am trying to recall what I used to write about here. Whoever said having two kids is not too different from having one either has only one kid or is delusional with lack of sleep. Say hi everyone to baby m~!


As it was with r~, measuring time with little milestones -- first time I could walk after surgery, first time she smiled (gas or no gas), first time I wore something nice after the delivery, first time k and I watched a TV show after delivery...every little thing is a milestone, a small celebration that we survived and are bravely marching along :)


Weird what thoughts float through our heads those first few moments, minutes, days after the baby is born -- when I heard her cry the first time and saw her for the first time, I thought, 'Gosh! I could do this again. Maybe we should have another kid!'


Didn't realize I would spend so much time worrying if I am giving r~ enough attention. I assumed most of my energy would be spent taking care of baby m~. Boy! Was I wrong! Half the time, I am screaming at r~ (who is a big girl now, all of 4 years old) to not touch m~'s hands because she hasn't sanitized her hands yet and has a runny nose and is just back from school (which we all know is there to spread germs and education). The other half of the time, I am tiring myself physically doing crafts with her to make up for all the time am not spending with her and to make up for my guilt for the earlier screaming session. The first few days after I was home, my baby blues (tears) were mostly about r~...didn't expect that.


Thank God for supportive husbands.


And supportive moms.


I am so happy I sent chocolate covered berries and a sweet card to the hospital staff. I love thank you cards and birthday cards and miss you get the picture. No wonder I love thanksgiving speaking of which, this card r~ made at school was touching:


After all the drama of home birthing, 3 day labor, ER visit and blood loss last time with my delivery, this time was almost a non-event. Felt unreal to not go through labor and give birth. I missed laboring -- something empowering about beating it and coming out of it alive (and now I have officially lost it, I guess).


Addicted to Parenthood.


1 year of no TV and still counting.


r~ is mischievous to a point where we get complaints from her school teachers about her naughtiness. Always embarrassing to get lectured about your kid; thought we were done with being lectured when I graduated from college.


Is anyone still reading this blog? Hellooo?


August 23, 2012

Bay area pics

r~ and I loved the mountain range that gave us company as we all drove around in the bay area. r~, my little artist replicated it here: she added an airplane and our house sort of on top of the mountains :-)

Mountains in the bay area

May 27, 2012

On moving and settling down.

So, we moved to Alpharetta almost 9 months back. We have gone through excitement, boredom, denial, almost-feels-like-home, jeez-we-have-no-friends...and many more phases representing a range from emotions from the totally anticipated to the entirely unexpected. I thought I should note down how I feel now and revisit after a period of time to see if anything has changed.

The first 3 months: were about saying good bye, nostalgia, remnant excitement from arangetram and from quitting IBM and moving on to a better job, adrenalin mixed with exhaustion from the move and the staying in a motel and the move again to an apartment.

The biggie was getting r~ settled into a preschool. I was definitely more apprehensive about that than my first day of work. The initial months were about figuring out where to get food (What is a Publix?!), where are the Indian grocery stores (we get chat here, paav bhaji with Tamil movie songs playing in the background!), beauty parlor (right next to HotBreads, now renamed Cake World) where I don't go any longer -- that's a long story, where to get clothes (there is a carousel in the mall and cup cakes and a train!) -- this we had to figure out as soon as we realized r's school required uniforms (was I back in Chennai?) Around this time, I met my friend from Bits, Pilani, A~ who filled in the gaps for me. An Indian co-worker of mine gave me the inside info about restaurants in the area and such. 

During this time, we went to Atlanta almost every weekend and tried to get a feel for the city (if we weren't in Atlanta, we were in Lex!) We didn't have any friends to speak of, so might as well get to know the city, right? We were regulars at the Children's museum (rocks!), Chatpati and related Indian restaurants in the area. We checked out the puppetry center for arts, an art studio for kids, a farm with animals to pet + a bonus art class...

r~ celebrated her first birthday in school (with Simba)!

There was not much time to think. The moving was done but the momentum didn't slow down...yet.

My artist at Purple Hippo Art Studio

Simba and Nala chilling out at our apartment!

The next 3 months: r~ was well-settled in school and I, at work. k was all set with his home office. Our trips to Atlanta had slowed down and we had info about all the essential services we needed. We continued exploring, went on a wild animal safari...That's when it usually begins right? The urge to change things just when everything seemed to touch a semblance of sanity. We started discovering small annoyances with the apartment -- the dish washer coughed up black gook every now and then (the apartment service folks rocked though), we were lucky to get a ground-floor apartment with an attached garage but there was hardly any sunlight in the living room -- and I thought I was running away from minor-SAD-symptoms in Lex. The reduction in living space didn't make much of a difference (surprisingly) and I loved the single-level layout but I felt the need to decorate the apartment so it was more home-like. We had friends visiting us from Lex and that was fun but we missed 'hanging out' -- something that k and I had an insatiable appetite for, in Lex. I got to know my office colleagues better and A~ better, attended a bunch of school birthday parties with r~ (where I, like my daughter, did not manage to make any new friends). I got to know the pani-puri aunty well ( we were there almost twice a week). 

r~ decided to join a paatu class -- my little girl was taking her own decisions! Another friend from Bits, also A~, told me about a bal vikas class that r~ might enjoy. So, we took r~ to Atlanta every Sunday for the class. She refused to stay alone in class which meant managing her for 2-3 hours without hopefully too many embarrassing moments. By the time, we ate and came back, it was 4-5 hours taken from our Sundays -- which was a nice way to spend Sundays since there wasn't much else to do anyways except house hunting! Around this time, I decided we had to buy a house and so the rest of the weekends and a considerable part of our work lunch time was spent looking at ranch houses. We needed a single level home, close to work and close to school, at least 3 BR and in reasonable condition. Turns out, that was not easy to find because not many people built ranch houses nowadays! Finally, we did find one soon after we decided to take a break from house hunting :)

Wild Animal Safari

And that brings us to now: we moved yet again, celebrated the new year and my birthday. I was at home, at work -- you know what I mean. r~ was at home at school. k~, well, he is at home, at work, anyways :) We talked a  bit about r2i and m2b (move to bay area :p) but decided we needed against it for the next few years. I liked my work and r~ liked her school. The place was definitely more happening and had access to a lot of fun things to do, the weather was what's the catch, you ask? Friends, of course. Making friends, when you are no longer studying somewhere, it turns out, is hard. We met people we could hang out with but that's different from hanging out with close friends...

k's parents are here to visit us and that always helps w.r.t home sickness (where is home anyway? India, Lex, here?) We finally joined the local library and I felt like I could breathe a little bit easier -- felt like a missing puzzle piece fell in place. We went to a neat build your own car class at Home Depot..met a few more people, who could potentially become friends, and felt better. k, though, misses friends at Lex, the swing in our backyard, the sand box he built for r~...

We went without TV for 8 months and hardly noticed the difference, we bought a TV and then returned it, bought another and returned it and are now TV less again and surprisingly still not missing it but I think this time, we will buy a TV and not return it.

r~ made some almost-real friends, I saw her initiate and ask questions to her teacher (by herself! Huge deal...for me), today she asked me if she could go to school (either she likes school or k and I have become boring versions of ourselves here!)...

And we are back to spending inordinate amounts of time about trivial enhancements to the house -- which means, we are almost home...

Time will tell.

@Home Depot -- that week's show & tell for school!

April 16, 2012

Mushy mushy.

Sometimes, r~ gets really mushy and all cuddly with me and I wanted to record some of the things she said before she quickly became an eye-rolling teenager saying, "Mom, pleaaase!"

* Amma, I will always stay with you (அம்மா, நான் எப்போவும் உன்னோட இருப்பேன்!)

* Amma, I won't go to space because it is verrrry far. If I go, I will take you (This, when I asked her if she will write letters to me from space :)

* Amma, how beautiful you are ( அம்மா, நீ எவ்வளவு அழகா இருக்க! )

And equally note-worthy non-mushy moments:

* (While throwing a piece of paper up) 'Now the earth will go around and this paper will go to India' -- after I had explained why it was day in India while being night in the US and vice versa.

* (One day, I got really mad at her and said I am going to send her off to a different appa and amma) -- 'அப்புறம், அவா எச்சை plate ல என்ன சாப்பிட சொல்லுவாளா? -- Of all the concerns, she is worried, they will ask her to eat in a dirty (echal) plate!

* (When I told her the beginning of 'The immortals of Meluha') Amma, I like Shiva umaachi a lot, I like him as much as 'I love you' -- she did not mean, she liked Him as much as me, she meant, she liked him as much as the emotion represented by: 'Iloveyou' :p (எனக்கு Iloveyou அளவு பிடிக்கும்!)

* Amma, don't order this for me in Amazon. I want to go to a store and buy it -- understanding the difference between online and offline :)

* (Appreciating Daadi's saree, she says in Gujarathi -- in all politeness) 'Daadi, your dress is very beautiful. Can you please order this for me from India?'

An aside: I think k and I will deeply miss Simba when r~ gets past the lovey stage. Simba is like a second kid for us now, "Radhu are you ready to go? Where is Simba?" is something we ask without thinking :-)

I kinda get now why my mom kept the dolls that L~ and I used to play with, for so many years :)


Even a part of her hugs :)

April 13, 2012

Happy Tamil New Year's Day!

இனிய புத்தாண்டு நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

March 16, 2012

When I was 16...

(Created with animoto)

I happened to read some of my old autographs (is this concept extinct now among friends that part...because there is no real parting now?) and was amused by what dominated our lives when we were 16 -- thoughts and words and relationships that had seemed important then...

A few excerpts:

So, "I" start my autograph book with a quote: "To meet, to befriend and then to part  is always tough for the human heart"

A quote on the second page: "If we meet again, we shall smile, else this parting was well made"

So heavy and dramatic?

From my friends: almost all of them start with "Dear Mosa" -- my pet name in Bits...

"Wherever you go, whatever you  be, please keep in touch with me"

"I will always remember along other things, you knw, your kottals and of course, the way you eat sam in IC"

That hasn't changed much, k tells me I eat samosas in a ridiculous fashion even now!

"There are many more things I wanted to say but I cannot put them down on paper..."

"What do I write in your autograph? It is a very painful task for me to write your autograph because it means parting..."

"Though circumstances are going to separate us, I am sure that our friendship will hold us together..."

"Marry some body who loves you as much as...then...when you narrate your college stories to your grandchildren, don't forget to mention me" -- No, I don't know who that someone was...really.

"And nobody can match you in telling long stories about the kadalai of the day!"

A lot of them wishing me good luck with my university applications. That seems to have occupied a big chunk of our thoughts. A lot of advice about not worrying -- hmm.

I remember crying for days together, walking aimlessly in a red-eyed daze after leaving Bits. Who are these people now and if I meet them, will I recognize the person in them that wrote these words?

I really don't know. Perhaps, we can  pick up where we left off...that's what good friends are supposed to do, right?

Arranging the library is always a soul searching process for me one way or another. The photos or the words get me every time.

February 20, 2012


So the days when r~ decides to skip her nap and go to sleep early (weekends), it's like we earned ourselves a few hours in which to relax and do nothing. Time to myself. Read a book, eat ice-cream, watch a movie, do nothing. But, usually these two me-time hours turn out to be more stressful for me than not having them because all the time I spend doing something in those 2 hours, I constantly tell myself, it's my precious me-time and I better make the best use of it! And then, I think of all the other things I can be doing in these hours and that list of course is endless eventually making me more stressed than if I just went to bed and slept with r~.

As soon as I hear her little snores, my thought process is something like this:

Check time. 8.15. Good. Lots of time to do stuff.
What first?
3 books am in the middle of...haven't  blogged in ages...that JavaScript article that I have been meaning to listen to...oh! New episode of BigBangTheory...clean house...
Feel a bit rushed. I reach out to my computer without having decided what to do.
Land on fb and twitter.
9.45?! How did this happen?
Hurriedly reach out to book and flip pages without focusing.
15 minutes later, remember something to buy from Amazon.
Back on the computer.
Blog done.
11.30? Have to sleep early, work tomorrow.
Recheck twitter account. Also linkedIn and pinterest.
12.00 -- thinking I will be so annoyed tomorrow with less sleep.
Stress about books not read and remaining blogs left undone.
House same mess as found 2 hours earlier.

Next time, I can do without these 2 hours. And come to think of it, without the internet!

Got to do yoga. One more item to add to my me-time list. Great.

February 01, 2012


The iPad is becoming a frequent point of contention in our household and the cause of considerable amount of stress for me. I'll start with the smallest point (person) and then go on to the bigger (older) ones. No, I am not going to say I have conflicts with r~ about how long she can be on the iPad. Thankfully that day is not here yet. She is a pretty good kid that way and hardly ever demands to play on the iPad but she has recently gotten into this routine of face-timing when it's night in America.

It's a long story. She doesn't like the dark much and asked why the sun had to set and why it was not bright and somehow we landed on the topic of it being daytime in India while it's night in the US and she got fascinated by this concept. So, when it is night here, she would say, Oh, it's dark here which means thatha paati will be awake, so let's facetime with them. And soon, it became a routine for her. Oh, it's night here, let's facetime to the extent that she would refuse to talk to her grandparents on the phone. "No, only facetime!".

It's quite interesting watching her interact with her thatha paati on the iPad. Although she has spent considerable time with her grandparents face to face, now her routine is to chat using the iPad and so, she doesn't treat it any differently from face to face. She'll usually demand for facetime and then proceed to do her normal activities as if her thatha paati were right in the room with her. It's not "different" for her to interact with her grandparents this way. Today, she said, "Let's take thatha on a walk into the night!" and I asked her how and she said, "Joiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, like this" and she showed me how we would carry the iPad with us into the night which means that thatha is coming with her for a walk into the night :)

Anyway, coming back to the contention points, the second is k (of course). Every morning, I get up a little earlier than k and r~ so that I can get her lunch box ready while they catch up on some more zzzs. And after screaming out their names 22 times and opening the curtains and playing loud music, k will sleep walk his way into the kitchen, look around for his glasses and/or coffee and then sit down with his...iPad while I fume in the kitchen, calling out a constant stream of instructions that usually lightly bounce off his ears and fall onto the carpet. And when I questioned the necessity to make the iPad an essential body part this early in the morning, he said, well, isn't that what our dads did? They sat with the newspaper -- that's the only difference! This actually made me laugh...the other day, I was drawing with r~ and I found a picture that reminded me of what he said. So, I drew it out on a piece of paper and gifted it to him as a reminder of how thoughtfully he had held up to his side of the argument:

It came out pretty well I thought. He asked if I thought that's where he was heading at the top (notice the baldness), I hadn't thought of that :p

So, the third point which is most likely to cause some heart condition in me has to do with my parents and the iPad. Usually a facetime (chat) session on the iPad goes like this:

Me: "Amma, can you come on facetime, r~ wants to chat..."

Amma: "Now???"

Me: "Yes."

Amma: "But, can't I  just talk to r~ on the phone?"

Me: "No." (With r~ screaming into my ears all along, "Facetime, facetime, thatha, paati, facetime!!!")

Amma: "The iPad is in the bureau..."

Me: (With slightly elevated pulse rates) "Why?" -- This is like the point in BBT where the Leonard warns someone not to ask Sheldon Why.

Amma: "Because it is expensive and lot of people come in here. It will get stolen. I can't find the bureau keys..."

Appa: "Amma is looking for the bureau keys to get the iPad out. What is r~ doing? Oh...I hear her. What is she saying? Hellooooo...helllooooooo paaaappa..."

Me: "She won't come on phone pa..." (Thaaaaaaaaaaaathaa, paaaaaaaati...wheeeeeeee -- now she is just screaming just because it is fun)

Amma: (Somewhat breathlessly) "I took it out..."

Me: "Ok, can you come on facetime?"

Amma: "It's not working"

Me: (Enter gritting teeth stage) "W h a t  do you mean, it's not working?"

Amma: "It shows a red broken battery and won't even start"

Me: (Coming close to matching r's decibel level) "Why is it not charged?"

Amma: "I can't leave it charging forever. The iPad will heat up...also if it is left outside..." (repeats the whole reason about burglars targeting iPad2's in India)

Me: "Put it on charge now"

Amma: "I did. It's still showing a broken battery."

Me: "Aaarg"

After sometime, I have calmed down, had some cold water, managed to give r~ some fingerpaint which she is using as floor paint but at least she is quiet now. I call India again.

Me: "Ok, iPad charged?"

Amma: "Yes. It doesn't work."

Me: "???"

Amma: (Patiently expands on her terse statement) "Nothing works"

Me: "@#@##$%"

Amma: (Excitedly) "Shall I come on the laptop? It will only take 2 minutes?"

Me: "No, we bought the iPad for a reason....what doesn't work?"

So you can see how it goes. Thankfully, that time L~ was home and he deduced that the internet connection was down and so fixed it (which in India, you do by restarting the modem. Five times a day.)

I haven't even touched upon me remote debugging from here and teaching my dad how to increase volume on the iPad or the time they lost the charger and spent more than the iPad cost to replace it -- need a part 2 to this post :p

January 14, 2012

A for Awkward...

So there are quite a few things you can learn from kiddo birthday parties. One of them is how to deal with new situations and new people -- you can always run to the center and shout really loud. Everyone enjoys that and if you think about it, it is fun to do that. Only, you can't really do that if you are an adult even though it  breaks the ice and acts as a tension release mechanism. Or you can start jumping. That could be fun too. You can just go hopping from one new person to another or just hop to a beat in your head by yourself. Again, not an option for me. The third easy option is to partially hide your face behind your mom or dad and peek at the new folks standing in a comfortably close circle at a distance. Practical difficulties with this third option for me.
Another option (my favorite) is to start dancing, as demonstrated below. A long shot but this one's worth a try.

Anyway with all my fun options taken away, I get to deal with new people and situations the adult way i.e. by being awkward. The initial meeting is never awkward especially when you meet people in a new place through your kid's activities -- school, birthday parties and so on because that is when you just head randomly to a person or a set of people and introduce yourself as so and so's mom. Or you could stand in the middle of the room and just smile at everyone and some kind soul will usually head towards you and ask if you are so and so's mom.

But, what happens after that? When you meet all these people again at a similar gathering, what then? You have run out of "I am so and so's mom. You are so and so's mom?" stage. So now the onus is on you to say something interesting and meaningful while wondering if you can recognize your kid amongst the 20 other little ones running and jumping everywhere around you. Yes, I could always make small conversation and talk about the weather or something but I don't do small talk well. I know logically, that's how one ought to begin to build relationships. You can't talk philosophy and books and passions to a random person before they know you as more than so and so's mom...I can see how that would go.

"Hey, you are r's mom right?"

"Yes but I'd rather discuss the latest book you read or I read or we could talk what you are really passionate about...what are your thoughts on r2i, bharatanatyam, organic have to go? Right now? Ok."

The other issue is when we try to interact as adults while managing kids, we fall into what I call the-half-attention syndrome. This gets better as the kids get older but's like half our brain is focusing on the conversation with the adult while the other half is wondering why your 3 year old is licking that germ-infested bouncy contraption and giving you that look that says, "I dare you to react to this in this public gathering". The nice thing about the half-attention-syndrome with friends is you both know each other well enough to carry out a meaningful conversation with half finished sentences...

"Hey, did you read 'The help'? The movie didn't really...stop chewing on that thing! (that thing = a USB drive) justice to the...right now or no cake for you ever...but that other movie was a good adaptation, you know which, not my iphone...we should go to that new organic, no lollypop because it has's your brother's marriage coming along...yes, even if it's pink, it's bad,! don't throw it there!..."

Yup. Can't do that with new folks. I notice with new folks, it is a more contained half-attention-syndrome.

"Yes, we should definitely meet to set up a...excuse me, I need to..." pointing to your red faced bawling kid because another kid would not share the ball while 3 other balls are lying unnoticed on the floor.

But, I like to believe I am getting better at this plus if your spouse accompanies you to these get-togethers (thank you, k), you can actually get past the weather talk, which I did with a few folks here.

I am still awkward. I still tend to chatter to fill up voids but I am getting better at 'awkward'. I still would prefer a "Tu meri chamak chalo" routine instead...

© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.